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Bruce Bialosky

Having COVID

When you first heard of it, it was something far away. Then it might come to our shores. It was here but was not a concern. Then it began to get serious and then it began to get scary. People were afraid to leave their homes. Some have been locked down since March. If you ventured out of the house you risked everything. The authorities instead of calming you were causing panic. But you are not the panicking type. You do everything responsible to protect yourself. Wash your hands a dozen times a day. Wear a mask around people. Keep your distance from people. Then you find out you have it. You have COVID.

You think it would be easy to know you have it. It isn’t. The authorities have you scared of anything going on with your body. You are over 50, but not in the high risk over-80 age group where most deaths are occurring, though that fact must be uncovered because it is not generally disclosed. Forty percent of deaths are still from people in nursing homes where the median life span is five months. Yet you get a sniffle or cough, or you wake up congested one morning and you run to look at the symptoms on the internet. The symptoms go away and relief returns. This time everything is different.

First, you notice your wife is feeling weary and congested. She feels ill, but she doesn’t really exhibit signs she has the dreaded disease. You are beginning to feel a little awkwardness. You feel off. You usually have the good fortune of waking every day with no aches or pains. Then while having dinner your wife asks if the food tastes bland. I tell her no, I can taste the tomatoes in the sauce, the pasta, and the vegetables. Now you know you have a real problem. That is a sure sign. She had already spoken to our excellent physician, but now she arranged to have a test, but we already knew the outcome. She has COVID. She arranged for me to get a test also, but that was a fait accompli.

We went into a new mode. Two things were on our minds. What do we do and did we expose anyone? We racked our minds. How long had we had this? What were the earliest signs? How had we gotten it? Because we had not locked ourselves down or were concerned about home deliveries or grocery shopping, we were considered by some to be reckless. We had gone on two trips and been in 12 states to get out of the overly-controlled state of California. Other states did the same things as California — wore masks, distanced, spaced tables properly in the restaurants. We were far enough away from our trips to know it was not because of travel. We also were far enough from any interactions with friends to feel confident they were safe and that proved out to be true. No one we encountered ever got it. How we got it remains a mystery. We decided to keep it private except for advising our two adult children.

Not knowing the exact first day, we had a good idea we were about a week in. It is usual to go through about two weeks of illness, and our understanding was days 8-12 are the most dangerous. Our excellent doctor had us on a new regimen of checking two “numbers” multiple times each day – the first is a thermometer and the second a device we had not had in our lexicon – a pulse oximeter. The target numbers were body temp not exceeding 100 and pulse ox (oxygen level in the blood) not dipping below 96. We had no other treatment. The danger signs with this disease are having breathing problems and a drop below 96 on the little machine that fits on your index fingertip is a warning sign. These became our new guides.

We displayed different symptoms. We shared something like a fluffiness in our head that would come and go. The feelings were like having the flu – we guessed. We cannot remember having the flu mostly because we are the first in line to get a flu shot every year. We were going from stories from those who had the flu and no shot.

Actually, the symptoms came in waves. You felt fine and then you got hit. Then you went to the two devices to get assurance you were not deteriorating and then relieved when the numbers were fine. The concern was more for me coming from our excellent doctor knowing that I have some of those underlying conditions that raise the concerns for most people.

Each day was a mystery. Sometimes you woke up drenched in sweat wondering what happened overnight. My wife had persistent nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and headaches. How would you feel today and how were your numbers? There was just one day that was challenging. Typically, temperature is higher later in the day. On day nine or ten my temp spiked. The first time it went over to 100.3 degrees. My oxygen went down under 96, but I did not panic. I did put together an emergency “go” bag. Also, I remember a young doctor I had seen early on who had the disease and said he was fine by laying low and taking Tylenol. I popped a couple in and within an hour my temp was back down. But I kept the go bag packed as kind of a good luck charm.

The symptoms are fading. My numbers are at normal levels. You have come to the end of your two-week period and you feel a great sense of relief. You were not a victim. You beat it and feel victorious even as you know that is the outcome in over 99% of cases.

You start asking the excellent doctor questions. When are you free? When can you start the treadmill? Two weeks and start easy. Can you get this again? No, only one person has been known to get it twice and that is not clear. Dr. Birx confirms that the next day that even if your antibodies wear down, they will kick in again within 24-48 hours. Should we get a COVID vaccine when they are available? Most likely not, but we will discuss later depending on their construction.

There is a tremendous amount of freedom you experience having had COVID. There is nothing that anyone can say to scare you about it anymore even if you were not fearful before. You are free from the pandemic. You are a survivor. You really do not have to wear a mask — you cannot give it to anyone, and no one can give it to you. But you wear the mask because you don’t want to go through that explanation every time. You do not have to think about what might happen if you get it. And there is the side benefit, you lost weight and how many don’t like that?

What you are left with are your thoughts of gratitude. You have shared a challenging experience with your life mate and pulled through again. You are thankful for your children and their love. You are thankful for your friend and excellent doctor who has given you wise guidance for all these many years. You are thankful you get to listen to more great music and watch baseball and love your life and all the special experiences you are graced with daily. God has blessed you.